Bristol has never been the first choice of the Norwegians as a holiday destination in England. One reason has been the lack of direct flights.
The nearest airports have been London, Liverpool or Manchester, cities that most have a much closer relationship. Thus, few have visited Bristol unless one has had a specific case there. But maybe this could change now?
Bristol has a surprising amount of culture, sights and history to offer.
The city’s newly renovated harbor area has become a meeting point for Bristol’s jovial and hospitable residents, and tens of thousands of students from the two universities provide for an unusually exuberant nightlife. Not far from Bristol are some of the UK’s best beaches and national parks.
We see no reason why Bristol may not be one of our new favorite places for a long weekend in England, for families with children, couples or groups of friends. Take a visit and be pleasantly surprised. The train ride from Paddington Station in London takes less than two hours!
Get to know Bristol
Bristol is located in south-west England, about 18 miles west of London and just off the border with southern Wales. The Romans had a settlement here already 1800 years ago. Today’s Bristol grew as a port city in the 12th century, and as a cruise town across the Avon River.
The name Bristol derives from the old-English Brycgstow, which means the Place at the Bridge. Within a couple of centuries, Bristol had become England’s third largest city, after London and York. But the population was almost halved when the Black Sea hit Bristol in 1349.
The center of Bristol was bombed and destroyed during World War II, and the reconstruction was done as quickly and inexpensively as possible, with large ugly concrete blocks. But it gave the people and the merchants head over. After the ships’ ports were moved out of Bristol’s city center to Avonmouth, the port areas were given a new role in the cityscape, and have now become a pleasant meeting place in many ways comparable to Aker Brygge in Oslo.
Bristol’s downtown areas are not as expansive, but the city can be a little difficult to orientate, due to many hilltops, rivers and canals. It is also not a defined center point, and the neighborhoods often overlap without clear boundaries.
- Abbreviation: BS
- Country: United Kingdom
Bristol – the boatbuilding town!
In the 16th century, Bristol established itself as England’s foremost boatbuilder, and gained its city status in 1542 when the city’s church and monastery were elevated to a cathedral. Bristol became the starting point for several important expeditions to the New World ( USA ), but also has a blemish as one of the centers of the slave trade.
Bristol was the northern point of the triangle West Africa, America, Europe. Thousands of slave ships were built in Bristol, and these carried hundreds of thousands of terrified Africans to America in horrific conditions. A large proportion of these died from malnutrition and diseases along the way.
Wonderful Brunel’s influence on Bristol
It is impossible to talk about Bristol’s history without entering the productive engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859). He is credited not only for being the man behind the Great Western Railway, which connects London with southwest England and southern Wales, but also Bristol’s foremost landmarks such as the magnificent Clifton Bridge, Temple Mead Railway Station and the steamship SS Great Britain, the largest ship of the time.
Brunel was the first to build a tunnel under a river, the Thames in London. This tunnel is otherwise still in use. Brunel’s presence is very visible in Bristol to this day, and he is honored with countless statues, pub names and street names all over England. There is even a Brunel University in London, and an opera about him premiered in 1993.
Old City in Bristol
You will surely spend a lot of time in the Old City, Old City, which is surrounded on three sides by the river channels where ferries continue to pass. Here is the venerable old theater Old Vic in the cobblestone-lined nightlife of King Street, and the traditional St Nicholas Market, which has been going on in the quarters between St Nicholas Street and Corn Street since 1743.
Temple and Redcliffe in Bristol
East of Old City, on the other side of the canal are the Temple and Redcliffe districts. Many hotels are located in Temple, and the attractions here are primarily the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and the magnificent Temple Meads train station, built by Brunel in 1840, and the terminus of The Great Western Railway. Close by is the church that the area is named, Temple Church, and which was built by the legendary Knights of the 1100s.
Redcliffe has a major point of interest, the Gothic Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, which with its 90-meter spire often makes a greater impression on visitors than Bristol Cathedral. St. Mary’s also dates back to the 12th century, and the townspeople are proud that Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) must have called it “the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England.” The legendary pirate Blackbeard, or Edward Teach as he was originally called, (c. 1680-1718), was a real Bristol boy and must have had one of his hiding places in a cave under this church.
Broadmead in Bristol
Broadmead is Bristol’s shopping district and is located northeast of Old City. The main draw is the large shopping mall The Mall Galleries, with the surrounding pedestrian streets Broadmead, Merchant Street and The Arcade. Most of the buildings in Broadmead were constructed in the 1950s, following major destruction from the bombing during World War II.
Close by is the park Castle Park, which in practice was Bristol’s medieval quarter until the 1940s. Now you can see the ruins of two old churches and Bristol Castle here.
The port area and the West End of Bristol
Harborside has become Bristol’s new meeting point, after the port areas were moved to Avonmouth. Now this has become Bristol’s answer to Oslo’s Aker Brygge, with many restaurants and cafes along the harbor canal. At the bottom of the canal is the large open square The Center Promenade, and to the east you have the large Queens Square park and the modern art gallery Arnolfini in an 1836 building.
On the west side is the city’s newest and biggest tourist attraction, the interactive science center Explore @ Bristol>, where you also find tourist information. Just north of Explore is Bristol’s cathedral, with roots from 1140, next to the green College College park, where students from the City of Bristol College like to gather. There is also a statue of Queen Victoria from 1888.
The West End is the steep area northwest of Harborside, centered around Park Street shopping street. Here is the hilltop / park Brandon Hill with the tower Cabot Tower at the top. There is free entrance and you get a glorious panoramic view of Bristol and the surrounding area.
Clifton in Bristol
Finally, we mention Clifton, which is the old Georgian region, with its old villas and houses from the 18th century. Here are the more fashionable and special shops, preferably a price level above everything else in Bristol. The neighborhood’s main attraction is also Bristol’s foremost symbol, Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. This 414 meter long suspension bridge over the River Avon was opened in 1864. But the spectacular is the view from the bridge, which extends over a 75 meter deep cut. Also in Clifton is Bristol Zoo.
General about Bristol
Climatically, Bristol is one of the hottest cities in the UK, with more sunshine hours per year than most other English cities. Bristol is partially protected by the Exmoor Hills and Mendip Hills mountains, but it can blow sour right in from the Bristol Canal.
Facts about Bristol
Bristol is the 6th largest city in England by population.
|Religion||Protestant (50%), Catholic (12%).|
|Time Difference||England is an hour after Norway.|
|Currency||English pounds, the equivalent of around £ 10 as of June 2014. ATMs can be found in many places in the city center, and the use of credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and Diners is very widespread.|
|Tips||It is normal to give 5-10% on dining and taxi if you are satisfied. Otherwise, you are not expected to give tips.|
|Embassy||The Norwegian Embassy in England is located at 25 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QD. Tel: +44 20 7591 5500.|
|Tourist||Explore-At-Bristol (open daily from 10am to 5pm), The Mall and the airport. Read more here !|
|Electricity||240v 50Hz. You need an adapter for the UK 3-pin outlet, and these are normally available in stores.|
|Holidays and Holidays||January 1st, first Monday in May, last Monday in August.|
|Visa||Not required for Norwegian citizens.|
|Vaccinations||No vaccines are required.|
|Water||Can be easily drunk from the tap.|
|Nearest major cities||Cardiff, Bath, Gloucester.|
|Safety||Some violent crime, but the level of preparedness in England has been raised following several terrorist attacks and bomb threats in recent years. Also pay attention to pickpockets in crowds.|
List of Bristol Acronyms
The most commonly used abbreviations about Bristol is BS which stands for Bristol. In the following table, you can see all acronyms related to Bristol, including abbreviations for airport, city, school, port, government, and etc.